In my ongoing quest for the diamond-cut life of happiness without excess consumption, I notice a couple of things.
Many non-mainstream choices I make, like carpooling, increase my happiness. (This gang of public-interest attorneys I’ve gotten mixed up with is turning out to be a hoot. So-o-o-o much more fun than driving alone.) Other choices my household makes, like heating our house with biodiesel, has a fairly neutral daily impact on our lives, aside from knowing we’ve reduced our emissions, which knowledge makes us happy when it happens to cross our minds.
My thought here is that it’s easy to live inside the box of mainstream choices without even considering whether the greener or lower-consumption choice could be a happier one. Most people in our country commute alone and emit lots of carbon as they heat their homes — without even expecting any satisfaction from either of those activities. In fact, it’s normal to complain about commuting and heating bills. I think we should raise our expectations for our own happiness.
Research on happiness states that the single biggest predictor of it is the number and quality of the relationships we have with others. Interesting that relationships are something we earn with our behaviors, like kindness, and are not something we can buy or consume. Going outside the box of mainstream commercialism is looking more and more like a well-kept secret. I think we should all be blowing the lid off it.